The use of infrared thermography in the measurement and characterization of brown adipose tissue activation

Temperature (Austin). 2018 Jan 29;5(2):147-161. doi: 10.1080/23328940.2017.1397085. eCollection 2018.


Interest in brown adipose tissue has increased in recent years as a potential target for novel obesity, diabetes and metabolic disease treatments. One of the significant limitations to rapid progress has been the difficulty in measuring brown adipose tissue activity, especially in humans. Infrared thermography (IRT) is being increasingly recognized as a valid and complementary method to standard imaging modalities, such as positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET/CT). In contrast to PET/CT, it is non-invasive, cheap and quick, allowing, for the first time, the possibility of large studies of brown adipose tissue (BAT) on healthy populations and children. Variations in study protocols and analysis methods currently limit direct comparison between studies but IRT following appropriate BAT stimulation consistently shows a change in supraclavicular skin temperature and a close association with results from BAT measurements from other methods.

Keywords: PET-CT; brown adipose tissue; human; infrared thermography; rodent; thermal imaging.

Publication types

  • Review